Fall election looms over final sitting of current Nunavut assembly

It is crunch time for Nunavut MLAs as they wrap up business in the final sitting before this fall’s territorial election and hit the campaign trail.

MLAs look to pass bills, get answers in assembly's final days

The chamber in Nunavut's legislature will soon be empty as MLAs finish off the final sitting before heading onto the campaign trail for this fall's territorial election. (Vince Desrosiers/CBC)

It is crunch time for Nunavut MLAs as they wrap up business in the final sitting before this fall's territorial election and hit the campaign trail.

The fall sitting is underway in Iqaluit this week.

"It's like we're rushing now to get some answers that perhaps we didn't get during the [past] four years, so I'm a little bit more pushy," said Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak, adding her term has gone by quickly.

"There's still a lot of work to do. I guess it will always be that way. There's always going to be issues we need to do," she said.

"Trying to get it done in four years — when you say four years it seems like a long time, but it goes by so fast."

Paul Quassa, government house leader, confirmed to CBC News that he intends to run again this fall in Aggu, a constituency in Igloolik. (Vince Robinet/CBC)

The sitting is only a week long but six new bills have already been introduced. Most are housekeeping bills, like three budget ones and another to write off assets and debts.

Another would change the motor vehicle act to include a review of the act every five years. It also calls for an annual report on traffic safety in Nunavut to be tabled every year.

Besides passing new legislation, MLAs are gearing up for the territorial election.

"Of course, all the MLAs are raring to show their communities the last four years they have been working very hard," said Paul Quassa, government house leader.

"There's excitement in the air and I'm sure the communities are watching very closely as to how we proceed in the last sitting."

Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak said her term has gone by quickly and she plans to seek re-election. (David Gunn/CBC)

Quassa predicts some MLAs could announce their election intentions during the sitting. He confirmed to CBC News that he intends to run again this fall in Aggu, a constituency in Igloolik.

As well, Angnakak said she also plans to seek re-election.

The future of Bill 37

One piece of legislation is still hanging over the heads of MLAs is Bill 37.

It would make controversial changes to the Education Act and the Inuit Language Protection Act, such as extending the deadline for offering bilingual education, by 10 years, to 2029 for Grades 4 to 9. It would also postpone the deadline for Grades 10 to 12 indefinitely.

In May, members of the standing committee on legislation announced their plans to recommend the bill not move forward. Then in June, Quassa made a last ditch plea to MLAs to bring the legislation forward for debate.

Bill 37 is just one of four bills in the hands of the standing committee, including the Corrections Act.

"By the end of the sitting if they don't bring it out to the house, that means all of these bills will be finished," said Quassa.

"We still have days of sitting here and anything goes."

Standing committee chair Tom Sammurtok has been absent from the first two days of the sitting but is expected to be present on Thursday, according co-chair Angnakak.

When asked if the standing committee will bring the bill forward during the sitting, Angnakak replied, "We'll see what happens."

About the Author

Jane Sponagle

Jane Sponagle is a reporter with CBC North in Whitehorse. She previously lived in Iqaluit where she covered a wide range of stories for CBC from the Nunavut legislature to where to find the best pizza in the Arctic.